The personal network

Sep 01, 2013, 09:38 IST | Moeena Halim

Vebbler, India's first personal social networking site, offers a layered platform allowing you greater privacy to share more 'meaningful' conversations

The digital world is abuzz with talk of the newest kid on the block. And if you’re worn out with your cluttered social life online, Vebbler seems to be just what the doctor ordered.

The new social networking website, Vebbler, is trying to set itself apart by emphasising on maintaining intimate and more meaningful relationships online. Vebbler’s founder, Sahil Bhagat (bottom, centre) with his team

What sets this social networking site apart from others in the rung, claims its 23-year-old founder Sahil Bhagat, is its emphasis on maintaining intimate, more meaningful relationships. For one, it allows you to segregate your connections into four ‘Clubs’ according to relationships such as friends, family, work or acquaintances, and remain discreet about it.

“People have an inherent need to share every moment of their life online. They’re constantly posting their thoughts on social networking sites. But most of these sites allow you to connect only one-dimensionally, not recognising that what you might want to discuss with your friends isn’t necessarily something you’d want your boss to know,” notes Bhagat, likening Facebook and its fraternity to a newspaper, while comparing Vebbler to a personal diary.

With Vebbler’s layered model of sharing, what you share with one ‘Club’ will not be disclosed to the others. “On the other hand, we also recognise that certain relationships in your life overlap. Your work colleagues might also be your friends, and it is possible for one connection to be part of multiple clubs.

Also, soon we will make it possible for users to customise their clubs too, so they can have more than four. But the main advantage is that you don’t have to bother about privacy settings all the time. Photos, which are stored in high quality, can also be shared exclusively. You can choose who can tag your photos and to whom the photos can be tagged,” adds Bhagat, who began work on the site about a year ago. “I think that was when there was a big scare about privacy -- people found their mothers inviting them to be friends on Facebook. That’s when I realised the need to create this layered platform,” says the young entrepreneur with a laugh.

But the cleanly designed, minimalist website isn’t limited to personal sharing. “Vebbler also has a public platform that allows you to follow people. The enhanced search engine allows you to look for and follow people whose interests match yours. So if you’re a Basketball fan based in Mumbai, you can search for people with a similar interest, follow them and receive all of their public updates,” reveals Bhagat.

Their attention to detail includes a set of specially designed emoticons. “We decided not to go for the open-source emoticons the other platforms use. And it’s turned out to be quite a hit with our users. On public request, we’re doling out a new set in a few weeks’ time,” says Bhagat. Following another request, the website has also been made available for use on the mobile phone.

Thanks to Vebbler’s Campus Connect initiative the site has gained quite a following with their target audience. “Our team personally went to about seven colleges across Mumbai. As for places that were out of our reach, we used social networking sites such as Reddit, Facebook, StumbleUpon and YouTube to spread the word and encourage youngsters to be our ambassadors. We sent them merchandise such as T-shirts, pens and so on and in return we received excel sheets full of email ids. We even got a kid from Nigeria writing in to us,” he exclaims, clearly overwhelmed by the heartening response.

With over 4,000 users from across 51 countries and 370 plus cities, the site seems to have received the social nod. But only time will tell whether or not Vebbler will gain the status of becoming a recognised verb.

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